Most schools have rigorous safeguards that shield their students from harm, especially when minors are on-premises. Yet despite their best efforts, predators manage to slip through the cracks and cause safety and legal nightmares that haunt administrations for years. If those cracks are more akin to glaring holes, negligence is the only explanation for repeatedly mishandling misconduct allegations.
New allegations surrounding Cabot High School reveal that staff members were aware of a District volunteer's inappropriate behavior towards students but failed to take action. The administration's mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations is prompting Cabot School District to improve its security protocols and prevent future incidents. For the victims, however, those changes come all too late.
According to news reports, John Bradley Rich, then 26, volunteered at Cabot High and sexually assaulted a student-athlete. Rich pleaded guilty to the assault in 2015, but the other victim had not yet come forward. New documents show that staff members saw inappropriate text messages sent by Rich to the other victim. Despite being mandated reporters, the staff members did not make a report with the DHS.
Understanding School Accountability
Cabot High School's screening and investigation process go against standard protocol, and the administration made multiple mistakes. The school did not perform a background check on Rich before he volunteered to work with students. Moreover, Rich made several visits to the campus after the allegations surfaced, including giving a presentation and delivering supplies to his wife, a teacher at the school.
Schools are legally accountable when they mishandle misconduct allegations. The consequences range from a loss of credibility to hefty damages, especially when problems are recurring. Cabot High School's case is not unique – from schools to colleges, there are specific measures that administrations must take when misconduct allegations surface. Many fail to follow protocol.
Multiple reasons for failing to handle misconduct allegations exist, from the perpetrator being a star athlete to a lack of staff knowledge on what to do when a student speaks out. New federal sexual misconduct reporting laws mandate that schools investigate a claim when a victim files through a formal process.
The second victim in Cabot High School took the right reporting measures, but the school did not do its job.
How Students Can Protect Themselves Against Administrative Negligence
School administrations frequently mishandle sexual misconduct allegations. Whether the victim of their negligence is the accuser or the accused, there is a lack of consistency in the reporting process. Students who believe that their schools are mishandling misconduct allegations should seek a legal advisor. Without one, they remain under the mercy of a committee that may not follow investigation protocol.
Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento understands the reporting process and identifies when schools aren't doing their job. With his formidable legal background and history of successfully handling cases where school negligence is suspect, students and their families don't have to face harsh or indifferent administration panels alone.
If you are facing a school or college investigation panel and suspect that your school is mishandling misconduct allegations, call legal professional Lento today at 888-535-3686.